Finished: "A single man" by Isherwood

I have finished "A single man". Sadly.

I have googled it a bit, I became very curious about the origin of this book and it´s author. Turns out, it was written when Isherwood and his partner of ten years had a major crisis in their relationship and it seemed probable that they would separate. What Isherwood did, to process this, was to fictionally kill his partner and explore what his life would be like without him. And this is the story: the day in the life of collegeprofessor George, mourning his lover Jim.

This is a book that manages to be very romantic, without being sentimental. George´s life is a happy life in many ways, but he doesn´t shy away from the less pretty realities of friendships, partnerships and sexuality. This makes the story so easy to identify with, even though it´s about a man and I am a woman. I guess Isherwood confirms what I have always suspected: at heart, men and women are just the same.


The ending is at first a bit enigmatic. George falls asleep and the author´s voice becomes more clear, more independent. And he says: "let us suppose...". And I´m at first not sure whether George dies, or not. But after sleeping on it, I see that the ending paragraphs establishes George as a thoroughly fictional character, and that Isherwood says, at the end of this exploration, that life without the man he loves is really not worth living. And he manages, in a very poetical way, to make it clear that this inner timebomb, if I may call it that, was created in George the very minute he laid eyes on Jim, years before. It is really a beautifully argued case for the "love of one´s life".

In real life, I am happy to read, Isherwood and his lover Don Bachardy stayed together for the remainder of Isherwoods life, and that Bachardy (a portrait artist) still to this day lives in the home they made together. He also makes a quick appearance in the film "A single man", as a college teacher. I am now very curious about the film, that everyone writes about as so visually beautiful. George´s life in the book isn´t that beautiful. Julianne Moore is not chubby like Charley, her character, is in the book. I imagine Tom Ford has made an interpretation of his own, and I am very eager to see it!

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